Monday, February 23, 2009

I Will Always Stand on the Side of the Egg

The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami recently made the controversial decision to travel to Israel to accept the Jerusalem Prize for literature. On receiving the award, he gave a powerful speech detailing his motives in accepting the award and exhorting all of us to recognize and fight abuses of power. The speech is published in its entirety in Salon. I've excerpted a small piece below.

I chose to come here rather than stay away. I chose to see for myself rather than not to see. I chose to speak to you rather than to say nothing.

Please do allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this:

"Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg."

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be?